Check whether dockershim removal affects you

The dockershim component of Kubernetes allows the use of Docker as a Kubernetes's container runtime. Kubernetes' built-in dockershim component was removed in release v1.24.

This page explains how your cluster could be using Docker as a container runtime, provides details on the role that dockershim plays when in use, and shows steps you can take to check whether any workloads could be affected by dockershim removal.

Finding if your app has a dependencies on Docker

If you are using Docker for building your application containers, you can still run these containers on any container runtime. This use of Docker does not count as a dependency on Docker as a container runtime.

When alternative container runtime is used, executing Docker commands may either not work or yield unexpected output. This is how you can find whether you have a dependency on Docker:

  1. Make sure no privileged Pods execute Docker commands (like docker ps), restart the Docker service (commands such as systemctl restart docker.service), or modify Docker-specific files such as /etc/docker/daemon.json.
  2. Check for any private registries or image mirror settings in the Docker configuration file (like /etc/docker/daemon.json). Those typically need to be reconfigured for another container runtime.
  3. Check that scripts and apps running on nodes outside of your Kubernetes infrastructure do not execute Docker commands. It might be:
    • SSH to nodes to troubleshoot;
    • Node startup scripts;
    • Monitoring and security agents installed on nodes directly.
  4. Third-party tools that perform above mentioned privileged operations. See Migrating telemetry and security agents from dockershim for more information.
  5. Make sure there are no indirect dependencies on dockershim behavior. This is an edge case and unlikely to affect your application. Some tooling may be configured to react to Docker-specific behaviors, for example, raise alert on specific metrics or search for a specific log message as part of troubleshooting instructions. If you have such tooling configured, test the behavior on a test cluster before migration.

Dependency on Docker explained

A container runtime is software that can execute the containers that make up a Kubernetes pod. Kubernetes is responsible for orchestration and scheduling of Pods; on each node, the kubelet uses the container runtime interface as an abstraction so that you can use any compatible container runtime.

In its earliest releases, Kubernetes offered compatibility with one container runtime: Docker. Later in the Kubernetes project's history, cluster operators wanted to adopt additional container runtimes. The CRI was designed to allow this kind of flexibility - and the kubelet began supporting CRI. However, because Docker existed before the CRI specification was invented, the Kubernetes project created an adapter component, dockershim. The dockershim adapter allows the kubelet to interact with Docker as if Docker were a CRI compatible runtime.

You can read about it in Kubernetes Containerd integration goes GA blog post.

Dockershim vs. CRI with Containerd

Switching to Containerd as a container runtime eliminates the middleman. All the same containers can be run by container runtimes like Containerd as before. But now, since containers schedule directly with the container runtime, they are not visible to Docker. So any Docker tooling or fancy UI you might have used before to check on these containers is no longer available.

You cannot get container information using docker ps or docker inspect commands. As you cannot list containers, you cannot get logs, stop containers, or execute something inside a container using docker exec.

You can still pull images or build them using docker build command. But images built or pulled by Docker would not be visible to container runtime and Kubernetes. They needed to be pushed to some registry to allow them to be used by Kubernetes.

Known issues

Some filesystem metrics are missing and the metrics format is different

The Kubelet /metrics/cadvisor endpoint provides Prometheus metrics, as documented in Metrics for Kubernetes system components. If you install a metrics collector that depends on that endpoint, you might see the following issues:

  • The metrics format on the Docker node is k8s_<container-name>_<pod-name>_<namespace>_<pod-uid>_<restart-count> but the format on other runtime is different. For example, on containerd node it is <container-id>.
  • Some filesystem metrics are missing, as follows:


You can mitigate this issue by using cAdvisor as a standalone daemonset.

  1. Find the latest cAdvisor release with the name pattern vX.Y.Z-containerd-cri (for example, v0.42.0-containerd-cri).
  2. Follow the steps in cAdvisor Kubernetes Daemonset to create the daemonset.
  3. Point the installed metrics collector to use the cAdvisor /metrics endpoint which provides the full set of Prometheus container metrics.


  • Use alternative third party metrics collection solution.
  • Collect metrics from the Kubelet summary API that is served at /stats/summary.

What's next

Last modified March 23, 2023 at 11:16 AM PST: Apply suggestions from code review (9b78ecff2c)